Frequently Asked Questions
Have some questions for our West Palm Beach criminal defense firm? Check out some of these FAQs and learn more about your rights.
1. Do I need to hire an attorney if I plan to plead guilty?
Yes. It does not matter what you intend on pleading. It is very important to hire a criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights. Representing yourself in court is rarely a good idea. Even experienced lawyers hire other lawyers to represent them. There are so many factors that go into negotiating the best possible outcome in terms of a plea agreement. Even if you want to plead guilty, The Lewin Law Firm can help you obtain a lighter sentence or minimize (and in some cases completely eliminate) your criminal charges.
2. What is the first thing I should do if I was arrested?
Try to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible. Hiring a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney will ensure you have the best possible outcome. Do not talk about your case with anyone other than your prospective attorney. Remember, anything you discuss with an attorney related to your case is considered a “consultation” and is entirely confidential. Ask questions about the law and how it relates to your case.
3. What questions should I ask my attorney?
Figure out exactly what you are being accused of and what the punishments are so you know exactly what you are facing. You should discuss any evidence that shows your innocence because it will need to be preserved. Ask him or her to interview witnesses. You should ask the attorney how often he or she will communicate with you and what experience he or she has. If your attorney has not practiced criminal law before, it might be a good idea to find somebody else.
4. If I am pulled over for driving under the influence, do I have to submit to field sobriety tests or tasks?
No. You do not have to submit to field sobriety tests under Florida law. However, when you obtain your Florida driver’s license, you are giving your “implied consent” to do the tasks upon request. You should know that you can also refuse to provide a sample of your breath, but you will lose your privilege to drive for a year among other potential consequences. The government can use the fact that you refused to do the tasks against you in court. Most skilled criminal defense attorneys can shoot holes in that evidence by discrediting the tasks or tests, pointing out they are subjective, and pointing out everything that you did correctly. If you have been drinking and are driving a car, you probably should refuse to do the field sobriety tasks.
5. Do I have to let an officer search my car or house?
No, you do not. Also, always remember that giving an officer permission to search you or your car or house will not make him less suspicious of you. He or she is already suspicious, which is the reason for the request. There are certain exceptions to the warrant requirement that allow officers to search vehicles in certain cases, however, you should never give your oral, written, or implied consent to have you, your car, or your home searched. Sometimes an officer will threaten to just get a warrant or to do it “the hard way.” Don’t fall for it. Not giving consent to a search allows you greater defenses in the future in asking the court to suppress or exclude any recovered evidence. You will not be punished extra later in court for refusing consent.
6. Do I have to answer a police officer’s questions?
It depends. You should respond to an officer asking for your name or identification. However, there is no requirement that you answer any questions about what happened, and you shouldn’t. In fact, there is something you may have heard before called the right to remain silent. Before any questioning about what happened, the officer should inform you of certain rights called Miranda rights. They are the ones we have all heard in the movies. Basically, that you have the right to remain silent and have an attorney present for any questioning. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. Upon hearing these rights, you should tell the officer you are invoking your right to remain silent. No matter how smart or experienced you are, if you are the suspect, the government will twist whatever you say to fit its narrative.
7. What will happen if I plead guilty or am found guilty of DUI (driving under the influence)?
DUI is a unique crime in Florida. The government has mandated certain punishments by statute that neither the judge nor the prosecutor have control over. However, there are still things that can be done to reduce those punishments if your attorney can convince the government to amend the charges to reckless driving. An attorney can help you navigate that process. If it is your first DUI, you are looking at a conviction plus a year of probation where you can’t drink and have to complete certain conditions like classes, payment of fines, and community service. Your driver’s license will be suspended. These punishments only get worse if you have prior DUIs. Only an experienced criminal defense attorney can help if you are charged with DUI. Call The Lewin Law Firm at 561-425-6250 right away. Daniel Lewin has handled thousands of DUI cases.